After months of deliberating a cap on skilled non-European migration, the British government has announced measures that seek to narrow the individual migrant route to Britain while opening up the way for those who are linked to established businesses.
Detailing measures that will take effect from April 2011, home minister Theresa May told parliament on Tuesday that the total number of Tier-1 visas for highly-skilled migrants who are free to look for jobs in Britain will be slashed from 13,000 to a mere 1,000.
But Tier-2 visas for migrants with job offers faced a less drastic cut of 20% over 2009, and was fixed at 20,700. The cap of 21,700 for both categories is a reduction over the figure of 24,100 applicable until April, 2011.
With Indians making up the majority of highly-skilled non-EU migrants, the harsh cut in the Tier-1 visas — under which the migrant is free to look for jobs even though they may have been sponsored by a particular company — was criticised by an Indian industry source in London.
“We are talking about very senior people here; people with a high level of technical and managerial skills ... ,” the source said. “These visas are applicable for only three years and the holder may want the freedom to look for job opportunities.”
However, as promised by Prime Minister David Cameron, no limit was placed on those coming to Britain under intra-company transfers by British-based overseas companies or British companies with offices abroad — a key demand by business.
A further 1,000 places would be available for people of exceptional talent – “scientists, academics and artists who have achieved international recognition or are likely to do so.”